Archive for the ‘Human rights’ Category

Did God speak to the former US President G. W. Bush? Some reflections

August 8, 2015

Nasir Khan, August 8, 2015

“God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”
— George W. Bush, quoted in Lancaster New Era, July 16, 2004

Such was the claim of the former US President. He said this after the US armed forces had invaded and occupied two large countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time, he was the most powerful leader of the mighty militarist superpower as well as a ‘divinely’ elevated person because God communicated with him. To my knowledge, in modern history we do not find another instance when a mortal man and the immortal God joined forces for U.S. to unleash two destructive wars! However, the implications of his pronouncements had a direct bearing on his political stature and his policies. Even though, he made his policies and issued his executive orders with the help of his close neoconservative advisers and secretaries but in doing so he was doing God’s work. God was speaking through him; therefore, God mandated whatever he did. God had chosen the right man to do His work!

If we accept the claims of divine guidance, for the sake of argument, that he, in fact, made on many times, then we can point to the results he achieved by his genocidal wars. Under his leadership, the US armed forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq in the most brutal way. They killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans who had no quarrel with the people of the United States or posed any threat to the global U.S. hegemony and power. The destruction of Iraq was systematic. The Bush administration undertook the destruction of Iraqi state and its infrastructure as a necessary step to imposing the imperial diktat in the Middle East. It uprooted the social and administrative structure of Iraq and replaced it with sectarian puppet regimes that followed the orders of Washington and the Pentagon.

To make the imperial take-over easy and to neutralise any resistance to the new geopolitical order in this vast and oil-rich country, imperial masters used sectarian discord of the population as a convenient tool. How did it matter to Bush if Sunni and Shia turned against each other and started terrorist violence against their own people – the people of Iraq? Religious fanatics and miscreants were free to weaken Iraq while the occupiers could have an easy task to control the country and its resources. Thus, the US occupation could continue with greater ease while the country was drenched in bloodshed and mayhem that is still going on.

Through his destructive policies in the occupied Iraq, the Bush administration destabilised the whole region and played with the lives of millions of Iraqis by reducing them to destitution, poverty, homelessness and helplessness. The rampant killings in Iraq have claimed the lives of uncountable victims. In the first 7 years of US occupation, about 1.3 million Iraqi died. The main source of this incredible catastrophe that engulfed Iraq in 2003 was the US invasion. The ultimate responsibility of the present cycle of violence and bloodshed remains with Mr Bush.

Mr Bush’s military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulted in large-scale deaths of Afghans. The brutal treatment of the prisoners of war and the innocent victims in the process of occupying Afghanistan is a dark chapter in the history of twenty-first century. The occupying power violated the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, international humanitarian conventions and all norms of international law. All this happened because God said to Bush to do so! In fact, this is a preposterous assertion that even Al Capone would not have resorted to! Let us take a common sense view of his claim and its consequences. What that means is that the former president is not responsible for the wars and war crimes but someone else is! In legal terms, he is implying that God is vicariously responsible for his wars and war crimes. In this way, he absolves himself of any responsibility for his actions and his policies as the head of US Government! A very convenient but cheap method to deceive the world, no doubt!

There is no need for us to enter into any lengthy theological discourse on God and his attributes. It is common knowledge that most believers see God as a kind, merciful and loving power. For having such attributes, believers hold Him in high respect and praise Him. It is hard to think that the Heavenly Father, as Christians call God, could have asked or encouraged Mr Bush to start major wars of aggression and commit the most heinous crimes against other weaker nations in this century. In brief, to impute such designs to God or because of fulfilling a mission from God is a reprehensible act on the part of Mr Bush. In the eyes of any sincere believers, he is maligning God in a vicious way if he believes in Him as he seemingly professes to do.

Alternatively, what if he really believed in what he asserted about God? That is something, which we can look at cursorily from a legal point of view. In criminal law, the actions of the alleged offenders are primarily judged for the mens rea – that is, their state of mind and intentions when they committed some indictable offence. In some cases, they are entitled to the defence of diminished responsibility or diminished capacity if their mental condition was impaired in such a way that they did not fully understand what they did. If such a defence is successful, the accused are given mitigated sentences or sent for medical treatment, depending on the gravity of offences involved. In an old case of acute insanity, one person beheaded a sleeping man just to see what he would do when woke up in the morning but didn’t find his head!

There are many cases when people hear sounds or messages from some unknown sources exhorting them to do something that may amount to a criminal offence. A hallucination is a perception that is not based on objective reality. It is very much a subjective condition of mind and in this condition, people may see or visualise things that having nothing to do with reality. In this age, we come across cases when some people say they have heard God or God has given them some message. If Mr Bush is sincere in his claims about God speaking to him, then that is something for which only the professional psychologists can offer their expert views.

In case  a judicial miracle (which I don’t see taking place!) takes place and the world sees the former US president, G.W. Bush, being prosecuted for his wars and the alleged war crimes in a court of law then the question of hallucinations would certainly be an issue in any legal process. However, facts point to a different direction: That he acted with deliberation and premeditation in pursuing his policies and his destructive wars.

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Richard Falk: Investigate the Death of Arafat Jaradat

March 2, 2013

Richard Falk,  March 1, 2013

What follows is a news report prompted by my press release on the shocking treatment of Arafat Jaradat who died while being held in an Israel prison.

27 February 2013 – A United Nations human rights expert today called for an international investigation into the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat, who died in Israeli custody just a few days after his arrest.

“The death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern, but in this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk.

“The best approach might be the creation of an international forensic team under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council,” he added in a news release.

Both the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, and the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, have also called for an independent investigation into Mr. Jaradat’s death, which occurred on Saturday.

Mr. Falk pointed to the assessment made by the Palestinian Authority’s chief pathologist, Dr. Saber Aloul, who observed the autopsy carried out inside Israel, and found there were clear signs of torture on the body of the previously healthy, 30-year-old detainee.

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Saudi Arabia – human rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism

August 30, 2011
Saudi special forces outside the hotel where the Counter Terrorism International Conference. Riyadh, February 2005.

Saudi special forces outside the hotel where the Counter Terrorism International Conference. Riyadh, February 2005.

© AP/PA Photo/Hasan Jamali

Amnesty International, 22 July 2009

We were afraid that something bad might have happened to him, that he might have been tortured. We called the prison but they would respond: “Be patient, the investigation is not finished.” I cried: “Let me just hear my husband’s voice”. His disappearance was so sudden…me and my family kept asking ourselves: why is it happening?

Wife of Khalil ‘Abdul Rahman ‘Abdul Karim al-Janahi who was arrested at Riyadh airport in April 2007.

The Saudi Arabian authorities have launched a sustained assault on human rights under the façade of countering terrorism, Amnesty International said in a new report on Wednesday.

Thousands of people have been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy, while others have been killed in uncertain circumstances. Hundreds more people face secret and summary trials and possible execution. Many are reported to have been tortured in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction.

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Ai Weiwei breaks gagging order in scathing attack on China’s human rights

August 30, 2011

Dissident artist speaks out after weeks of muted criticism

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing, The Independent, Aug. 30, 2011

Reuters

“Beijing’s slaves squat in illegal structures, which Beijing destroys as it keeps expanding. Who owns houses? Those who belong to the government, the coal bosses, the heads of big enterprises… Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.”

 

China’s best-known dissident, the artist Ai Weiwei, delivered a calculated and outspoken attack about repression in Beijing, in an apparent rebuke to the regime that had sought to secure his silence by detaining him for nearly three months.

Mr Ai criticised the police, judiciary and the unfairness of Chinese society despite controls imposed on his release on bail in June that were designed to minimise his ability to embarrass the leadership.

In a commentary for Newsweek magazine’s website, Mr Ai – best known for designing the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing – called the capital a “city of violence” where nobody could speak out because they were denied basic human rights. He also damned the legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which has been trumpeted as a victory of Communist Party organisation and source of national pride.

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Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 14, 2011

by Dr. Nasir Khan, Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011

Almost the whole world had condemned the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Such terrorism had also, once again, reminded us how important it is to combat the forces of communalist terror and political violence in the Indian subcontinent. But what is often ignored or suppressed is the fact that there are deep underlying causes of the malaise that erupts in the shape of such violent actions; the unresolved Kashmir issue happens to be the one prime cause that inflames the passions and anger of millions of people.

Kashmir Conflict

However, to repeat the mantra of “war on terror” as the Bush Administration had done for the last eight years while planning and starting major wars of aggression does not bring us one inch closer to solving the problem of violence and terror in our region. On the contrary, such short-sighted propaganda gimmicks were and are meant to camouflage the wars of aggression and lay the ground for further violence and bloodshed. The basic motive is to advance imperial interests and domination. The so-called “war on terror” is no war against terror; on the contrary, it has been the continuation of the American imperial policy for its definite goals in the Middle East and beyond. Obviously any serious effort to combat terror will necessarily take into account the causes of terror, and not merely be content with the visible symptoms.

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Shame of US Justice

January 12, 2011

By Yvonne Ridley, Foreign Policy Journal, Jan 10, 2011

America’s international standing as a fair and just country does not match its superpower status as the world’s greatest democracy.

When it comes to basic human rights it is there in the gutter alongside some of the world’s most toxic, tinpot dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.

So there’s little surprise that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange fears being extradited to The States where some politicians and Pentagon officials have already called for his execution and Attorney General Eric Holder admits his government may invoke the US Espionage Act.

But it’s not just the persecution and the prosecution Assange should fear, either – the wheels of justice can be agonizingly slow in a process which could take years. And in the case of the Guantanamo detainees there is no end in sight – the majority of them have not been charged but simply forgotten.

Having stepped inside US prisons – both military and civilian – I can tell you there is nothing civilized about the penal institutions in the United States.

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Human Rights Day & U.S. Hypocrisy

December 14, 2010

Defensive America’s Contempt for Full Court, Press

by Nima Shirazi, Foreign Policy Journal, December 14, 2010

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – André Gide

“WikiLeaks has shown there is an America in civics textbooks and an America that functions differently in the real world.” – James Moore

Sixty-two years ago, on December 10, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration, to which the United States is undoubtedly beholden, affirms:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Well, except for WikiLeaks, of course.

Internet giant Amazon.com, which hosted the whistle-blowing website, dropped WikiLeaks last week, “only 24 hours after being contacted by the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security.” Lieberman’s call for censorship was also heeded by the Seattle-based software company, Tableau, which was hosting some informational, interactive charts linked to by WikiLeaks. These graphics contained absolutely no confidential material whatsoever and merely provided data regarding where the leaked cables originated and in what years they had been written. Nevertheless, for fear of government retribution, Tableau removed the charts, explaining,

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal have all since followed suit.

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The Conflict in Chechnya: Confronting the Threat of State Disintegration and the Right to Self-Determination

November 30, 2010

Shavkat Kasymov, Foreign  Policy Journal, November 28, 2010

Abstract

This essay focuses on the right of the Chechen people to self-determination. I examine the legitimacy of the Chechens’ claim to self-determination and assess the policies of the Russian government toward the minority populations of the Caucasus. I also assess various aspects related to the legitimacy of the movements that fight for self-determination in the context of the global war on terror as well as the problem of violations of minority group rights. In this essay, I argue that current policies of the Russian government in the Caucasus do not lay the foundation for the long-lasting peace and stability in the region and are, in large part, conducive to the continuation of separatist tendencies.

Human Rights and Nation Building Policies

The right to self-determination is intimately linked to the right to free association as well as a guaranteed protection of cultural rights under universal UN conventions, whereas the concept of state sovereignty is the foundational framework on which the global peace and security are built in the modern world. Today, the conflict of principles of state sovereignty and identity group rights continues to generate and fuel a number of local wars and conflicts in many parts of the world. Moreover, some localized conflicts have been extended to other countries owing to the ideological factors that fuel them.

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Last 5 months of Kashmiri resistance against Indian oppressive rule – Urdu Weekly Rehbar

November 14, 2010

Editorial: An evaluation of the last 5 months  in Kashmir

Urdu Weekly Rehbar, Srinagar (Kashmir)

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China’s Charter 08 for human rights and democracy

October 9, 2010

Council on Foreign Relations, December 10, 2008

Over 2000 Chinese citizens, including government officials and prominent intellectuals, signed this statement calling for political and human rights reforms and an end to one-party rule. The statement was released on December 10, 2008, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was translated by Perry Link and published in the New York Review of Books.

I. FOREWORD

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

By departing from these values, the Chinese government’s approach to “modernization” has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first century? Will it continue with “modernization” under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.

The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the beginning of what is often called “the greatest changes in thousands of years” for China. A “self-strengthening movement” followed, but this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and other Western material objects. China’s humiliating naval defeat at the hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China’s system of government. The first attempts at modern political change came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China’s imperial court. With the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia’s first republic, the authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting dream.

The failure of both “self- strengthening” and political renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a “cultural illness” was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise, during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of “science and democracy.” Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in 1931] brought national crisis.

Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of totalitarianism. The “new China” that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that “the people are sovereign” but in fact set up a system in which “the Party is all-powerful.” The Communist Party of China seized control of all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth [Tiananmen Square] Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to defend citizens’ rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled.

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